Arkansas Vital Records
Arkansas Vital Records
The Office of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining all state-level vital records created, administered and maintained by the state of Arkansas regarding a person’s most important life events. These records include such documents as birth certificates, marriage licenses and death certificates and are compiled and stored in a permanent central registry state entities uses to develop statistical analysis of its population.
A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document certifying the birth or to a certified copy or representation of the original document. The state of Arkansas manages the birth records catalog into two periods based on the period of time the event occurred and the enacting of the statewide registration law: 1881-1914 and 1914-present. The records in the first category were and are gathered from the county clerks’ offices of the county of birth. The state of Arkansas signed into law a statewide registration in 1914; however it was till the middle of 1930s before a widespread compliance was achieved. The state of Arkansas birth records are in the public domain only after 100 years from the birth. To access the records more recent than that you must be a direct relative of the individual, the records are issued by the Arkansas Division of Vital Records.
A death record is most likely a copy of the information contained in a person’s death certificate. The state of Arkansas did not issue any death records registration prior to the year of 1914, when a statewide registration law was enacted. The pre-registration death records were collected from the church registers and some county offices. Beginning with February, 1 1914, Arkansas State Law required the registration of all deaths occurring within the state of Arkansas. Information found on a death certificate is reported by an informant (usually a relative) and may or may not be accurate. To obtain copies of original death records, the requester should contact the Arkansas Department of Health, where all death records are collected. The Arkansas History Commission has an index of deaths occurring in Arkansas from 1914 through 1949, the period by which the statewide registration was complied.
A marriage/divorce record is issued by a government official only after civil registration of the marriage/divorce occurs. The state of Arkansas organizes marriage/ divorce records into two categories based on the sources the information was/ is collected from, which includes early-1917 and 1917-present. Earlier records were collected from the respective county clerk where the license was issued, which is frequently the county of the bride's residence. Due to the fact that some counties in Arkansas have two courthouses where the documents could have been filed the requester should file two search documents. The records from the first category early-1917 are held by the Arkansas Department of Health, which has indexed marriage records from 1820 to the present. The marriage records dating from 1917 are available at the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Family Search Catalog.
Why Vital Records are Available to the Public
In late 1967, the Arkansas State Legislature pass a law named the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. This law was enabled with the last changes in early 2000 and aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public: http://arkansasag.gov/media-center/foia/ . Every person throughout the state can request access to access all public records through the assigned specialized offices within its determined terms.
What Vital Records Access Mean to You
The law is similar to the Arkansas Open Meeting Law which monitors the methods by which public meetings are conducted while the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act is established to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies, and the people’s conduct within.